Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. 1Corinthians 3:16-17
Paul reminds the believers that they are the temple, the inner shrine or sanctuary of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in them. It is true that every individual believer is also a temple of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The apostle is looking at the church as a collective company and wishes them to realize the holy dignity of such a calling. Apparently, there were false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth and whose instruction tended more to sin than to holiness. They did not think it a serious matter to cause havoc thus in a temple of God, so Paul thunders out this solemn declaration: “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.” This means that if any man enters a local church and wrecks its testimony, God will destroy him. The passage is speaking of false teachers who are not true believers in the Lord Jesus. The seriousness of such an offense is indicated by: “For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
The Corinth city may boast of many pagan temples and shrines, but there was only one temple for God—the Corinthian Christians were it! The “Spirit of God” is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised would come and live in his followers. The Holy Spirit draws all believers together as Christ’s body on earth; he provides the unity that should characterize them. Because every believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit, a dwelling place for Him, the believers ought not to be dividing into warring factions because that will destroy the temple.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that they were a unified assembly, all of you together are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God lives in you. They were not to see themselves as a collection of competing interests or independent individuals. Paul was emphasizing the intent of Jesus’ prayer that believers be unified in God. What actions could you take this week to strengthen your ties to fellow Christians in the church of Jesus Christ?
As an individual, the child of God is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our very bodies belong to Him! Lord, help us to keep our body pure and holy. As church members, let us edify the Body of Christ, as God’s temple, so that Thine works may be progressed for Thine glory. Amen.